Community Week: Guest Post by T.A. Hernandez
I apologize for the missed blog post last week. I've been working hard to get Malfunction finished for the Shore Indie contest and I'm almost there. Thankfully I'm helped out this week by Author and illustrator, T.A. Hernandez.
Hernandez is the author of a YA, Sci-Fi Dystopian novel: Secrets of Peace, which I recently read. She also just released the second novel: Renegades of Peace. You can learn more about T.A. Hernandez and find out more about her work at her website. She is also on Twitter.
The Value of Dystopian Fiction in the Modern World
It’s no secret that dystopian fiction has been growing in popularity in recent years. Sometimes it seems like every other author is writing a series set in a bleak future where people have to fight every day to survive under the rule of some oppressive government. So what is it about dystopian fiction that draws us in? And perhaps more importantly, why does it matter?
One of the primary reasons dystopian fiction appeals to so many readers is also one of the simplest: it makes for a good story. Dystopias often feature a struggle between right and wrong, life or death, freedom or oppression—things that are all worth fighting for. The stakes come pre-built into the setting, and they’re high—not just for the central characters, but often for everyone in the world they inhabit. In many dystopian novels, the conflict centers around an attempt to take power away from oppressive leaders and give it back to the common people, but in the midst of all that turmoil, individual characters deal with their own conflicts and have to make tough decisions. In that way, dystopian fiction can be large-scale while still telling more focused, individual stories, offering readers a glimpse into human nature under extreme circumstances.
Dystopian fiction also provides a lens through which to examine our own society. One of the most powerful things about stories is their ability to shine a light on things that ring true in our world and our time, and that’s just as true for speculative fiction as it is for other genres. Sure, dystopias often take the grim realities of our world and multiply them tenfold, but sometimes, fiction isn’t too far from the truth. Dystopias often provide commentary on the problems that exist in our own society, asking us to think about what could happen if something that seems fairly harmless was taken a step too far, or if leaders with good intentions slowly let power strip them of their morals until they lost touch with what was truly in the best interests of the people they govern. (Now that doesn’t sound familiar at all, does it?)
I think this, at its core, is the true value of dystopian fiction in today’s world. The first step in fixing a problem is recognizing that it exists. While dystopian books sometimes exaggerate those problems for the sake of storytelling, perhaps they can help us see some of the issues in our own society and start thinking about how we can prevent ourselves from going further down that road.